The Value of Patient Assistance Programs

Steven Peskin, MD, MBA, FACP: [What is the economic value of patient assistance programs?] [When] patient assistance programs are for individuals where there is economic hardship, and a biopharmaceutical company deems that it is appropriate, compassionate, and ethical to provide some assistance to select patients, then I think [they are] a very worthy thing.

There are other types of patient support programs. When most people mention patient assistance, they’re thinking of some economic or financial assistance. Sometimes, there might even be free medication given to certain people who can’t afford those medicines in the diabetes space or other areas. Again, those things are laudable, and worthy, and compassionate.

With adherence, endurance, persistency, or side effect management, sure, those things, we recognize, are ongoing. For some of those efforts, we will work and join with certain companies. In particular areas, we worked with one company around educating some of our folks that work in care coordination on end-of-life issues and palliative care. That’s been an area where we’ve worked through educational opportunities with biopharmaceutical companies. Those kinds of things, where the patient journey can be supported, or assisted, as it relates to a particular cancer episode, are appropriate, and we’ll certainly welcome that help from life sciences companies.

[When it comes to] educating our members, again, we have programs where we will occasionally work together. We’ve done this in diabetes. I don’t know that we’ve done this in cancer, specifically, but those are potentially available opportunities.

Again, we’ve worked with certain biopharmaceutical companies to educate some of our care coordinators or care managers as it relates to particular emerging science in a particular cancer type or, again, as I mentioned earlier, palliative care and advanced illness.

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